Flash Of The Blade
We’re all forced to deal with our own hardships. Some of them are more intense than others, but we all go through difficult times in our lives. In the case of Osamu Tezuka’s Dororo, protagonist Hyakkimaru has been subjected to far more than any other normal human should ever have been, and it’s all thanks to his father’s greed and disturbing attitude.
Hyakkimaru’s story is a tale of woe and sorrow, especially when you learn of his disturbing origins. From the very first episode of the series, we become intimately acquainted with this young man, who was born with absolutely everything robbed from him. We get to watch as, little by little, he transforms into a more “whole” version of himself while learning life lessons and coming to terms with the new feelings, thoughts, and abilities he gains over the course of the series.
It’s raw, disturbing at times, and infuriating—especially when you see why Hyakkimaru was born the way he was. But it’s also a journey filled with heart that you won’t want to miss.
See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil
While Lord Daigo Kagemitsu waits around for his wife to give birth, he takes it upon himself to make a deal with demons to come into a great deal of power. Unfortunately, the demons take a dangerous, terrible kind of payment for imbuing him with all that power. His child is born without skin, facial features, or limbs. Kagemitsu feels nothing for the child, insisting that it be cast out. Though his wife is sympathetic to the child’s plight, he is ultimately cast off down the river with the intention of being killed off.
Despite being relegated to death at such an early age, however, the young boy ended up surviving. Sixteen years later, he’s grown into an adept fighter after being cared for by a prosthetic creator named Dr. Jukai. He grows up sightless, unable to hear, speak, feel, or use his limbs, but is able to sense evil and demonic presences thanks to an aura-sensing ability deep within him. Hyakkimaru is wandering around hunting
a demon one day when he happens upon the titular Dororo.
Dororo is a young thief who’s just finished swindling three men, and they’re out for blood. When the men are attacked by a bloodthirsty demon, Dororo follows along with Hyakkimaru, who helps to defeat the demon Deiki. After Hyakkimaru defeats the demon, he begins to grow skin as part of what will become a journey toward his body, limbs, and senses eventually being restored. The entirety of Dororo following this important moment reveals that Hyakkimaru could indeed have a future more like a “normal” young man, as long as he continues to defeat the demons plaguing the countryside. Of course, there’s no guarantee that things will go back to normal, but it’s implied that all of Hyakkimaru’s hard work will eventually pay off.
With that said, it’s difficult to understand why the show, titled Dororo, focuses more on the cursed son of Daigo Kagemitsu, but Dororo is still an important part of the equation. Dororo begins accompanying Hyakkimaru, entranced by the fact that he’s unable to see, hear, or talk, but is an accomplished sword fighter.
A Journey of Love (And Demon-Slaying)
Dororo isn’t simply about Hyakkimaru working to regain body parts, feelings, or senses, however. It’s about the blossoming relationship between the two characters as well as those who touch them as they travel throughout the countryside. From an episode where the pair meet a seemingly beautiful village head named Bandai who happens to be a disgusting demon to a caring young lady of the night who works to care for the orphaned kids she lives with, it shines a spotlight on the kindness of humanity, especially those who life has been unkind to.
Despite being an action anime series, there’s a lot of heart in Dororo that makes it feel much more like it transcends genres and boundaries. There are various demons that need to be eliminated, of course, but there’s always compassion behind their deaths, and sometimes they’re left alone as they do no harm. Hyakkimaru and Dororo typically evaluate the situation before acting, and Hyakkimaru’s ability to sense auras tends to aid in situations like these.
Though we don’t often get a lot of insight into what Hyakkimaru is thinking early on in the series, and Dororo is hot-headed and impulsive, we can see that the pair usually have others’ best interests in mind, and because of this often try to do their best even when the odds are against them. In this, Dororo is a much more interesting and nuanced series, because it does a lot to transcend the typical “revenge on demons” story and adds several different layers to weave its narrative.
Walking A Lonely Road
Dororo is one of the most emotionally fulfilling series in recent memory, especially if you like watching characters evolve and grow throughout. Join Hyakkimaru and Dororo on an enlightening journey with plenty of twists and turns that you’ll be biting your nails at week in and week out. And get to know a different side of Osamu Tezuka than you may have known originally while you’re at it.
Dororo is now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.